Investment Scam

  • Sponsored “BBC News Nigeria’’ page asking people to invest for higher returns is fraudulent, fake

    Claim: A sponsored page on Facebook with the name “BBC News Nigeria” is seeking Nigerians’ audience and asking them to invest their money for a double return on their investment.

    The page is not owned by BBC or Vanguard as its owner wants the social media audience to believe. Besides, there is nothing like “BBC News Nigeria” whether as an existing entity or  as a media house in Nigeria. The “BBC New Nigeria” page is fake.

    Full story

    A fraudulent group which identified itself as “CROWD 1” has been calling on Nigerians to “register and invest” their money, promising higher Return on Investment (ROI).

    The group, which claimed it was created to provide support “both for the rich and poor” in order to help them “financially” is running its fraudulent activities with a sponsored Facebook page identified as “BBC News Nigeria.

    While assuring that investment is “100% money secured”, the page is directing interested users to join a Whatsapp group or call the admin of the “investment scheme.”

    “WELCOME TO CROWD 1. To Register And Invest Click The WHATSAPP BUTTON To message CROWD 1 OR Click on the link below to message them on WhatsApp👇👇 https://wa.me/2347069309314?text=Hello!%20Please%20how%20does%20this%20platform%20Works Call/WhatsApp The Admin (07069309314).

    “They are 100% money secured!!! It was created to support financially is both for the rich and poor,” the post of the group read accompanied with the video showing John Okafor, a Nigerian comic thespian, popularly known as Mr Ibu.


    Screenshot of the sponsored Facebook page: Credit: Facebook.

    Verification 

    Dubawa conducted an overall check on the page and discovered that contrary to its name “BBC News Nigeria”, it is not an original BBC News page or a media company.

    Besides, there is no single report except two videos — one of them showing a Nollywood actor, Kelvin Ikeduba, explaining why people should invest their money.

    Screenshot of the video section of the page page. Credit: Facebook

    The actor, arguably, is serving as an ambassador of the ponze group identified as “Crowd 1 investment.”

    This is a known culture in Nigeria whereby celebrities and social media influencers are used to sell a product, promote brands or project or change people’s orientation towards an opinion, idea and ideology. 

    Using popular media’s name as clickbait

    When Dubawa checked the photo section of the page, three pictures bearing “Breaking News” were found. One of them has a striking resemblance to BBC News, a global digital news and broadcasting agency.

    While it is apparently clear that the page does not belong to the real BBC, its owner, Crowd 1, uses the media organisation’s image and logo brand to serve as a clickbait. This, it is assumed, will draw the attention of targeted social media audiences to the page.

    Similarly, the fraudulent attempt is to give the ponzi scheme’s page a credibility boost, make people believe that it is owned by BBC News and lure them to the videos which, perhaps, may convince them to join the investment group.

    Dubawa notes there is no media agency in Nigeria with the name “BBC News Nigeria.” There, however, is BBC Africa, a subsidiary of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which has its tentacles in African continent.

    In Nigeria, four languages are available on the BBC platform, namely: BBC Pidgin, BBC Hausa, BBC Igbo and BBC Yoruba. There is nothing like “BBC News Nigeria.”

    This suggests that the page is bogus and a clickbait.

    The name and logo of the original BBC News. Credit: Wikipedia/Google search

    Further research unravels more!

    A further search by Dubawa showed that the Crowd 1 investment also runs another sponsored Facebook page to promote its activities, promising “double” profit of investment in two hours.

    Although it uses the name “Ibitomi, the page uses the logo/favicon of Vanguard newspaper, a Nigerian news publication, for the same clickbait reason.

       Screenshot showing the page using Vanguard logo. Credit: Facebook

    V letter with a deep colour-touch of red is the logo of Vanguard newspaper as shown below.

    Logo of Vanguard newspaper. Credit: Google play store.

    On the page is another video of actor, Kelvin Ikeduba, assuring prospective investors of high ROI after investment.

    Part of caption under the video reads: 

    “We are 100% money secure. It is an approved platform that gives you double of your investment within 2hours time. Invest now and thank me later.”

    Without any iota of doubt, this is a desperate ploy to lure people into the investment scheme using all possibly available baits.

    Conclusion

    Apart from promising higher ROI, Ponzi or investment schemes are deploying different methods to convince social media users to join them. In the case of the one discussed above, there is a desperate attempt to mislead the social media audience using the name, image and reputation of notable media organisations.

    The “BBC New Nigeria” page is fake.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Legit.ng to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Online Fraud: Ways to Spot Fake Websites

    Digital evolution and  technological advancement has without doubt  caused changes in almost all aspects of human endeavor. While these changes have contributed immensely to both human and social development, it has also ushered in an era of fraudulent activities online, what Nigerians widely regard as “Yahoo Yahoo” or “419” in the general sense. 

    These online fraud, has been mostly associated with Investment scams, a type of online fraud that offers unsuspecting members of the society juicy investment deals only to swindle their stakes at the long run and financial identity theft, is a type of online fradulent theft where a criminal steals personal or financial information from a victim without their knowledge in order to commit financial fraud or other crimes. According to a report by, a type that is carried out by scammers to access a personal financial details of persons and use it in turn to steal their bank savings.  

    These heralding issues and the possible risks online users are prone to, led the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to warn and discourage people against paying attention to messages and calls that demands access to their financial details or offers good investment deals. According to a report by  , Datarepotal, a database for global internet use, mobile devices and apps, social media, and e-commerce.

    Nigeria has over 104.4 million internet users as of January 2021 and  this has even increased between 2020 and 2021 with over 19 million new users added. This enormous growth of internet users in the country suggests a wider reach for scammers, a concern that led the Central Bank of Nigeria  to warn members of the public against paying attention to messages and claims that appear questionable or juicy to be true. This reality also makes it important for members of the public to know some of these fraudulent schemes are perpetuated, especially through fake websites and enticing links. 

    Fake websites: a strategy for online con-artists

    Fake websites have become serious threats to online security. While  some of these websites will tempt you to provide sensitive information to steal your identity, others simply do that when you merely click the link that is usually the bait. 

    Even more, according to new data by the American Federal Trade Commision, the use of social media by online fraudsters to get potential victims to click to their fake websites is on the rise. Scams starting on social media proliferated in early 2020 and are now a major issue. 

    Thus as social media users increase by the day, so also is the rise of its usage by fraudsters to bait users into their websites using fake generated links. These links are sometimes attached to fancy ads or enticing  offers to market to convince unsuspecting users into falling victims of these ruse scams.

    A typical example of an online fraud shared as a Whatsapp message to bait users

    Some scammers even hide behind phony profiles on social media to share false testimonies to completely unfounded schemes just to convince other users. They can hack an account or join a virtual community you trust to encourage you to trust them. Nonetheless, there are multiple types of these online fraud and scams. 

    Types of online Scams

    • Romance scam: Romance scammers often lure people with a fake online profile on social media. Once these fraudsters win the hearts and trust of their victims, they will claim they are suddenly in need of money for a medical emergency or some kind of personal crisis. 
    • Phishing: Is a rich source of income for fraudsters. Scammers often lure their victims on Facebook or Twitter or in a direct message, playing on human emotions, often advertising a gift or special offer.
    • Get Rich quick scams: these are false promises about investing in some Forex schemes.
    • Spoofing: Spoofing is falsifying data on caller ID to disguise who’s on the line. In a bid for authenticity, the spoofed number could belong to a legitimate government agency or a business known to you.
    • Computer pop-ups

    Pop-up warnings can show up on your computer. Alarms may sound. Click on a suspicious link or open an attachment and malware — that’s software used for malicious purposes — can compromise your computer system and steal your data. Never call the phone number that appears on a computer pop-up.

    • Fake photos

    Images can be stolen from the internet, altered or even forged  to lend credence to a bogus profile or website.

    Knowing how to spot the red flags in these fraudulent activities is a crucial skill for online users to master, so as to know what to look for. Thus, users can protect themselves by simply  learning how to identify fake websites, and  once they know how to spot them, they can keep themselves and their computers secure.

    7 Ways to Verify a Website

    Pay attention to the address bar:

    The first thing you want to look for on a website is the HTTPS at the beginning of the address. The S in HTTPS stands for secure and shows that the website uses encryption to transfer data, protecting it from hackers. So if a website uses HTTP,  void of the ‘S’, for ‘secure’  there is no guarantee that the website is safe. Therefore,  to be on the safe side, you should never enter personal information into a website that is HTTP.

    So the difference between HTTP and  HTTPS is simply the presence of an SSL certificate. HTTP doesn’t have SSL and HTTPS has SSL, which encrypts your information so your connections are secured. HTTPS also has TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol that HTTP lacks. HTTPS is more secure than HTTP.

    While HTTPS is secured under a protected platter, HTTP is widely open for scammers grasps

    Check if the URL is misspelled:

    According to digicert, one key indicator of a fake site is a misspelled URL. Fraudsters may change up a URL name slightly, like using amaz0n.com, or they may change the domain extension like amazon.org instead of amazon.com. Nonetheless, the key thing here is to try to find the differences and check well to confirm if you are on the right website. 

    A typical example of a fake Amazon  website. Squared red, ‘Amazon’ is misspelled as ‘Amazonx’ to lure users into giving away their personal information

    No privacy policy or terms and conditions:

    Those long terms and conditions documents that most people skim over? They often contain important legal information about how the business that you’re dealing with is going to protect your personal information, and how they’re liable to keep you safe during your transactions.

    Scam websites generally won’t have these, since they’re unlikely to be read. Try looking in the website’s footer. If you can’t easily find privacy information, the website you’re on could be trying to scam you.

    Look for a lock:

    The padlock on a website means that a site is secured by an TLS/SSL certificate that encrypts user data.When you go to a site that has a padlock icon next to the site name, it means the site is secured with a digital certificate. This means that any information sent between your browser and the website is sent securely, and can’t be intercepted and read by someone else while the information is in transit.

    A typical example of a site with a security lock and the one without

    Run site through a website checker:

    Use a website checker to verify if a website is secure. A secure website check can let you know any vulnerabilities on the site, if it is using encryption and what level of verification a site has. The Website Checker also analyzes the website to see how well equipped it is for secure usage online, and gives you details about the site.

     A typical result of a website analyzed under ScamDoc website checker

    Double-check the domain name:

    A lot of fraudulent websites will use a domain name that references a well-known brand or product name. But won’t be the official website, for example:

    website domains such as www.ipadoffers.net or www.discountnikeclothes.com should raise alarm bells. 

    Check Whether the Company Has a Social Media Presence:

    Most legitimate companies have some level of a social media presence. Fake websites sometimes have the icons for Twitter or Facebook, but the graphics don’t actually link to a real account. Read company reviews on such platforms and see if you can find real employees of the company on LinkedIn.

    Conclusion

    Online users can make it harder for scammers to carry out their tricks if they secure their social media privacy settings; limit what they share publicly, and be wary of clicking links and deceitful  online investment. Online fraud is real but online security protocols are also feasible. 

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the 2021 Kwame Karikari Fact-checking Fellowship partnership with JAY 101.9 FM Jos to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country

  • Think Twice Before Mindlessly Jumping on the “Double-Investment” Wagon

    The need for additional revenue streams ranks high in the priorities of several Nigerians. And the consensus is, the higher the investment return, the better. So, it is not surprising that many Nigerians now engage in activities with the aim of having multiple streams of income. In creating streams of income, some individuals and groups often promote investment ideas, where those who participate get over 50 per cent return on investment. The invitation to participate in some of these investment opportunities are very rampant on social media now.

    Anecdotal narratives and leads

    Usually, the introductory messages are built around the narrative that the investment opportunity is a trusted and reliable one. The person initiating the message then narrates how he became a beneficiary, though he initially doubted the investment could yield that high. A debit bank alert screenshot followed the message.

    One of such messages sent on two WhatsApp platforms recently read:

    “Pls there is a trusted and reliable investment that is really paying I want to introduce to you all. Hello, group a good day. The crypto world investment. This is an investment program that is sponsored and trade with cryptocurrency and that is 100% giving out double of whatever you invest with them in 45 minutes, am introducing it to you all because I also want you to benefit and gain interest in the investment. I never knew it was true until I gave it a trial and I confirm they are really genuine. Am sharing this information because I want others to benefit from this great opportunity. I paid 250k and I received 500k.”

    WhatsApp message

    In an interesting turn of events, the group members identified the sender to be a hacker! Sadly, this is now the norm now. And there have been several other instances of hacker-identified viral messages.

    Sometimes they reference federal institutions- as in this case

    Someone shared a similar message recently on WhatsApp. This one, however, promised its legitimacy referencing its registration under the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of the Nigerian government.

    It exists but…

    A separate part of the site which we were only able to access from google dubbed “how-it-work” explains their mission statement. What is even stranger is that there seems to be no discernible way to access it- neither from the flyout menu, drop-down menus or footers. This begs the questions, are they one and the same site? Is one genuine and the other fake?

    Failed attempt at verification

    Dubawa sent an enquiry to the email address on the company’s website in a bid to answer the above questions. Sadly, the mail did not deliver- it bounced back. Hence, the verdict remains unknown.

    Conclusion

    No doubt, there are credible investment opportunities out there. We are not telling you to become paranoid and keep your money in a hole. Yet, as we would always say- a healthy dose of scepticism never hurt anyone. This is especially true with the proliferation of online fraud- with scammers ready to swindle unsuspecting citizens.

    All this buttresses the need for proper verification before sojourning on an investment venture. Verification can come in the way of advice from your financial practitioner, background check into identity and credibility… And if all avenues prove futile, give us a ring.

Back to top button